Relaxation is the answer
Fact of life – stress arises in all our lives and will continue to do so until we are done and dusted. In order to build greater levels of resilience and be as prepared to best cope with stress when it does arise, we could all practice greater levels of self-care.
Every hero/ine needs self-care
You might be thinking self-care equates to self-indulgence, but you’d be wrong. Self-indulgence is doing what you want, it is being lazy, it is only seeking pleasure – any time, all the time – often with no regard for others. Self-care is about tending to your own health and wellbeing, because only when we are okay can you help yourself and help others.
Relaxation is the answer
Here’s a quick list of simple things that you could practice for as long as you can or for as much time as you have – which might only be 1 minute or might be a whole hour.
Get into nature, and if this is impossible, close your eyes and imagine yourself in nature. You might even listen to nature sounds (YouTube has plenty of soundtracks you can listen to for free).
Meditate – okay, so that word scares plenty of people. There are so many types of meditation and ways to meditate, it can be daunting to know where to start. My advice: start simple: close your eyes, focus on your breath. You are not trying to change your breathing, just notice it. Feel your body expanding and contracting as you breathe – what moves, what stays still? How does the air feel as it comes into and goes out of your body? What are the differences in those feelings, in that air. And before you know it, whole minutes have passed! Then, if you want to delve more deeply into mediation, there are plenty of meditation tracks on YouTube and plenty of meditation apps to try out.
Exercise is great, and even if you are confined to a small space, there are still exercises you can do…squats, pushups, sit ups. Exercise is possible for almost all bodies, as long as you choose things suited to your particular capabilities. Again, the Internet is a fantastic resource of ideas.
Breath work – there are lots of different breathing exercises and techniques, just Google breathing exercises or pranayama (yoga breath practice) for a whole smorgasbord. Particularly useful is diaphragmatic breathing. But in order to start simply, just take a moment to breath in for the count of 4 (or whatever is comfortable), hold for the count of 4, breath out for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4…repeat.
Repetitive words – this might be a mantra or an affirmation repeated to yourself, or it might be a prayer repeated to some other entity or being. Either way, it can function as a focus for your attention, it can be a way of expressing yourself and can bring intention to your words.
Dance/move – I love that expression ‘dance like no one is watching’. This is the kind of free movement I am talking about here, rather than some kind of choreographed dance moves. Turn on some music, be free of all pressure of ‘looking good’ and simply move in whatever way you feel is right for you in that moment.
Eat a well-balanced diet, one that promotes your health, whatever that means for your body.
Do yoga – again this gets you moving, increasing your strength and flexibility and focusing on your breath. There are so many YouTube videos and apps to try out. You don’t need any fancy equipment for a bit of loungeroom yoga, and the benefit is that no one can see you, so you have absolutely no pressure to push beyond your capacity.
Mindfulness brings you into the present moment and awakens your senses. Try a little mindfulness when you eat. Notice how your food looks, smells, feels, sounds (perhaps when cooking and preparing), and of course, savour the taste.
There are plenty of other things I could suggest, but instead I have listed things that are accessible to everyone – they involve no other people and no cost. And they are simply meant as a starting point.
If you struggle with finding time, see if you can dedicate 1 minute, every day for 1 week to relaxation. Then in the second week, increase to 5 minutes every day for a week.
There is a saying that goes something like this: Meditate for 30 minutes every day unless you don’t have time, in which case mediate for an hour.
Basically, aim for (or build up to) 30 minutes of meditation a day…unless you are really stressed, and then you probably could do with more. But start where you are right now…and just give it a go!